By Richard P. Smith
Mark Hanna of Vulcan, Mich., passed up seven bulls before filling his tag with this 210-inch Manitoba bruiser, which had a 54-inch spread. The 1,600-pound animal was aged at 14 years old.
Mark Hanna of Faithorn, Mich., a small community in the Upper Peninsula, bagged a huge bull moose in Manitoba in October 2010 that he was told has the highest scoring set of antlers ever bagged in the province by a nonresident, possibly the largest among Canada moose bagged anywhere that year.
Mark said the massive antlers gross 212 1/8 inches and net 210, with a total of 25 points — 13 on one side, 12 on the other. The palms or paddles of the antlers are more than 41 inches long and between 15 and 16 inches wide. The antlers have a spread of 57 inches.
The 1,600-pound bull was estimated to be 14 years old. Mark was told the bull was probably in its prime the previous year and would’ve had even bigger antlers then.
The moose is Mark’s fifth. He shot two in Saskatchewan and two others in Manitoba. The two he got previously in Manitoba had 50-inch spreads.
“I thought those were big until I got this one,” he said.
Due to Mark’s previous success on moose, he said he returned to Manitoba in 2010 with the intent of holding out for a bigger one, but the one he ended up shooting was far larger than he expected to get. He passed up seven other bulls before connecting with this monster, including a 52-incher he could have shot 200 yards from where he saw the big one.
And the one he shot was with another big bull!
Mark hunted with Fox River Outfitters out of Gillam. The fact that he was able to hunt out of a camp that had not been hunted for moose since 1991 contributed to his success. Due to low water levels during previous years on the river where the outfitter has his camps, the man was not able to access his lower camp. Water levels were high enough in 2010, however, to allow him to reach it, and that’s where Mark hunted.
The lower camp is almost 60 miles from the outfitter’s main camp. Mark’s hunt started at the end of September, but extended into October, as the moose breeding season was waning. He said he and his guide would leave camp at daylight and motor upstream for 29 miles, stopping at various locations to try to call in a bull.
During the remainder of the day, they would float back downstream to camp, hunting along the way.
It was late on Oct. 4 when Mark scored. He and his guide were floating back downstream when they spotted a 52-incher along the shoreline. Mark said his guide really wanted him to shoot that bull, but he decided not to pull the trigger of his .340 Weatherby Magnum, telling the guide he wanted something bigger.
Two hundred yards farther downstream, Mark spotted part of the antlers of the bigger bull in the brush. They pulled to shore, and Mark eventually saw an opening through which he thought he could get a bullet. The bull was facing him.
When he shot, the bull took off running. Mark ran a short distance to reach an opening the bull was approaching.
He fired a second time as the bull went through the gap, and Mark said he saw the big animal’s hind legs buckle briefly when his 250-grain Nosler bullet connected.
“Which one did you shoot?” the guide asked Mark after the bull disappeared.
“The one I shot went to the left,” he responded. “I saw only one bull.”
Mark said the guide had seen a second bull that had been with the one he shot. The guide said the second one was also big.
When the pair followed after the bull, they found lots of blood, but the moose wasn’t dead yet. It charged them when they got too close.
“All we saw were antlers coming at us in the brush,” Mark said. “It was so thick, neither of us could get a shot at the bull. My guide was carrying a lever-action .45-70.”
They waited awhile, then moved in on the bull again. By then, it was down, but still alive, so Mark shot it in the neck. After opening the carcass to make sure it would cool, darkness fell, and they still had 20 miles to go to reach camp. They didn’t get back until midnight.
When processing the huge carcass the next day, they learned that it was a good thing Mark shot the bull a second time as it was running away. His first bullet hit some brush and fragmented before striking the bull, and might not have inflicted enough damage to allow them to recover it. On top of that, the second bullet had less penetration than expected. It only went through one of the bull’s lungs after smashing through a rib.
Three of Mark’s friends were hunting moose with the outfitter at the same time, out of different camps, and they each got bulls as well. Dick Holstein, also from Faithorn, got a 48-incher. The other two members of the party were Matt and Danny Peeters of DePere, Wis. Matt got a bull with 45-inch antlers, and Danny shot a 52-incher.
Two days before taking the record book bull, Mark also got a huge male wolf that weighed 212 pounds. Dick and Matt scored on wolves as well, both females. The one that was weighed tipped the scales at 140 pounds.
All moose hunters in Manitoba get a free wolf tag with their moose license, but they are required to shoot a wolf before a moose. Once a moose is killed, hunters can no longer carry a rifle when afield.
Mark got 702 pounds of meat from his big bull. The bull’s head and skull weighed 150; the cape another 225.
– Photos courtesy of Mark Hanna
This article was published in the August 2012 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.